Wolves gone in a puff

Ottawa 67's Mark Mancari catches some air after scoring on Patrick Ehelechner, the 67's sixth goal...

Ottawa 67's Mark Mancari catches some air after scoring on Patrick Ehelechner, the 67's sixth goal of the game, during second-round playoff action against the Sudbury Wolves at the Civic Centre April 17, 2005. (Ottawa Sun/Jason Ransom)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

A fan carried a sign into the Civic Centre yesterday with a message that would have been seen as ridiculous not long ago: "The Memorial Cup. It's ours."

Slowly but surely, people are starting to believe.

Believe in a 67's team that spent the regular season looking great one week then terrible the next. Now it's four wins away from a possible berth in the tournament.

The 67's clinched their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final against the Sudbury Wolves in six games with a convincing 7-4 win in front of 7,688.

They'll face the Petes for the conference title beginning Thursday in Peterborough.

GAME 2 LIKELY SATURDAY

The 67's have not announced the date for Game 2 in Ottawa, but it will likely be held at the Civic Centre next Saturday.

The Western Conference final begins Thursday in London between the Knights and the Kitchener Rangers.

If the Knights, host of next month's Memorial Cup, win the West, the East champs will also get a spot in major junior hockey's championship.

"It's definitely in the back of our minds, but that's where we've got to keep it," said 67's winger Mark Mancari, who scored three breakaway goals and also had an assist yesterday.

"We've got to concentrate on Peterborough. We can't think of the Mem Cup and think too far ahead, or Peterborough is just going to capitalize."

It was the 67's who capitalized on their chances against the Wolves yesterday.

They led 3-1 after the first and had a 6-2 advantage after 40 minutes.

And, as usual, goalie Danny Battochio provided stellar play in net, making 38 saves.

"At the start of the series, I had something to prove," said the 19-year-old Sudbury-area native.

"Beating the home-town team just feels so good. It's real hard to put into words how I feel, but it means a lot."

The Wolves got to Battochio early on a power-play goal by Kevin Baker in the 12th minute of the first to tie the game after Jeremy Akeson opened the scoring for Ottawa five minutes in.

But the big goal came from Lukas Kaspar, who, 15 seconds after Baker's tally, pounced on a loose puck and roofed it over goalie Kevin Beech to take away any momentum the Wolves had gained.

"I thought we came out in the first period and set the tone," said 67's coach Brian Kilrea. "That's what they did to us up there (in Sudbury on Friday). They came out and blitzed us in the first period and capitalized on their opportunities.

"We did the same (yesterday). We capitalized on opportunities to give us that lead."

Brad Bonello deposited another loose puck into the net a couple of minutes later to give Ottawa a two-goal lead.

"They had some bounces that way," said Sudbury coach Mike Foligno. "We had a couple of opportunities to get the pucks out and we didn't.

"With those guys, you let them stay in the zone too long and, before you know it, it's going to be in the net."

Ottawa continued its attack in the second period.

Mancari got his first on a short-handed breakaway, getting in the clear thanks to a great no-look, behind-the-back pass from Bonello.

Foligno replaced Beech with Patrick Ehelechner after the goal, but Ottawa kept coming.

HULIT UPS LEAD TO FOUR

Chris Hulit scored during a two-man power play soon after Mancari's goal to give Ottawa a four-goal lead.

Benoit Pouliot scored 14 minutes into the middle period for the Wolves, but Mancari got it back two minutes later on another break.

Baker gave the Wolves a glimmer of hope early in the third on his second goal of the game, but Mancari clinched the win with his third score late in the third.


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